How do you choose a wedding venue that is just right, and budget friendly?

Stripes has noticed how time seems to fly – she said almost desperately the other day that we are already halfway through engagement season! Engagement season normally kicks off as the last corporate year-end party finishes and runs through up until Ester. 3 months of loving bliss, hearts and chirping birds everywhere. She just loves this time. Directly after engagement season, we get the second busiest time of the year – hunting season. That time when all newly engaged couples start looking for a venue, just to realise one of 4 things:

  1. Budget – either they have not thought of the costs at all, or they realise that their budget will never stretch far enough to cover their dream wedding
  2. Time – all of the popular venues are already fully booked, or only have less desirable dates available. Or they do have a date available, at a good price, but it’s in 3 weeks’ time and that is simply not enough time to pull together all your plans.
  3. Family – either they are too far away, so you know you will most likely have to celebrate your special day without all of them there or they are too close, sticking their noses in everywhere.
  4. Dreams – you dreamt too big, or you never even thought of your wedding and now you need to answer all these difficult questions like the feel and colour and cake flavours

Planning a wedding is tough, and takes many hours and days of hard work. We always say that the first wedding you plan is seldom a 100% success, so why practice on your own. But if you have the guts, patience and support to attempt to plan your own wedding, at least allow us to help in this small way.

We believe that the success of a wedding lies in 3 things:

  1. The food. Guests will always judge a wedding according to the food. Good food = good wedding. Bad food = disaster. Spend as much as you can on the food, and ensure you get a reputable caterer with enough experience. If the venue does the food, insist on a tasting to ensure you are happy with the quality. Ask the tough questions regarding quantity, ingredients, serving style, and more.
  2. The photos. In the end, they are all that you will have left to remember the day. Spend on your photographer.
  3. Happy guests. We know it is your special day, and should theoretically revolve around you and your partner, but unfortunately, that is not completely how it works. If you wanted to celebrate it alone you would have eloped, and sharing your joy comes with a bit of responsibility. You have to ensure your guests are comfortable, and that includes being warm (or cool in summer), dry, fed, hydrated and entertained. That is where your venue comes in. Choosing the right venue can help you ensure the happiness of your guests, which in turn will contribute to your enjoyment of the day.

The venue is a big deal. So how do you chose the right one? That is a difficult question, and almost everybody (especially the “experts” such as us 😉 has their own opinion. More than half of them will most likely not agree with us. But according to us, your venue needs to meet the following requirements:

  1. It needs to be affordable.

You cannot spend your entire budget, or even most of it, on the venue. The “experts” recommend spending only 10% of your budget on your venue. Of course, there are exceptions, and we will discuss one such an exception a bit later on.

  1. It needs to be accessible.

That includes transport and accommodation. If you plan on having a destination wedding you need to ensure that there is enough accommodation available for your guests. Assist in arranging transport by giving guests the relevant booking information, or ask the venue if they can negotiate a special price with a transport company.

  1. It needs to be flexible.

Do they only allow certain service providers, or are you only allowed certain themes? How adaptable are they to changes in for instance the weather, or guest list. If they are doing the food, can they provide special dietary requirements if needed? Also, life happens and things change – how will they handle changes such as postponements, or even cancellations. Before you book, always first read their policies on handling these and other situations.

  1. How customisable is the venue?

How much of the venue can you change to ensure your guests feel as if they are at your wedding, and not at just another generic one? Things you might want to customize: the menu, the seating plan, the program, service providers, colours, décor, drinks, etc. And will there be costs associated with these changes?

  1. They need to be transparent and upfront about all costs.

You don’t want any surprises. Before deciding on a final venue, make 100% sure you know what is included and exactly what the specifications are. Sometimes it is even more important to find out what is not included or allowed since these restrictions usually have a monetary “punishment” attached to breaking the rules. Ask as many questions as you need, and if they become iffy or funny about answering I would seriously reconsider booking them.

  1. It needs to be suitable.

Can the venue accommodate your probable group size, do they have a minimum and maximum guest count, will the venue be comfortable in the season that you which to get married in, is there a plan B if plan A fails. Also, are they available on the dates that you are considering?

  1. What is included.

This is, in our opinion, the most important point to consider when weighing up the pros and cons of venues. Remember we said your venue should be no more than 10% of your entire budget? Well, that percentage can change depending on how big the venue’s package is. E.g. if only the venue, stick to the 10% “rule”, but if the package includes the food, or drinks such as the welcoming drink or even sparkling wine for a toast, or a bridal suite, the percentage changes.

The best advice that Stripes can give? Pick a venue that includes as much as possible, because getting all of those items and paying for them individually not only adds up but also leaves a lot of boxes for you to tick. If the venue offers these things, it becomes their responsibility to deliver. You also have the peace of mind knowing that the suppliers that the venue has chosen as part of the package most likely have worked there before, making them knowledgeable and reliable.

I don’t know if you have noticed but we have not mentioned style or look or feel as one of the recommended considerations for choosing the right venue. The reason for this is sometimes we stare ourselves blind against what we think we need and ignore everything else. Meanwhile, there might be something better out there. Also, the venue is only the backdrop and even though you want something spectacular, you should also want to avoid debt and discomfort. So by keeping our 7 points front of mind, you will be able to choose the most beautiful venue that meets those requirements. No breaking the bank. Remember, you can make almost any venue look magical, and bring in your own look and feel with a few smart touches. Themes can be changed or slightly adapted to suit the venue. A good photographer can make your venue look amazing. Pair that with good food and happy guests and you have the makings of the perfect wedding, regardless of the venue.

Those are our top tips for choosing the right venue. If you have something to add, or a question, please feel free to comment!

And to all the newly-engaged couples, Stripes says, happy hunting.

Bridal shower games

Bridal showers, also known as kitchen teas, is that one get-together that Stripes really dislike. She says if you want to start a war, put ladies from 2 different families and friends who all feel they are the BEST friend together in a room, armed with mimosas and toilet paper. Sooner rather than later something ugly starts to rear its head, and if not contained it will break free and take over. Her solution? Play games. But not the run of the mill, same old same old games. Be creative to get the guests interacting. That way they will be too busy to nitpick and pick fights.

Here are Stripes’ suggestions for actual-fun games to play at a bridal shower:

  1. Bingo gift game

Download and print our blank bingo cards. Give one to each guest, then have them fill in the blank blocks with the wedding gifts they think the bride will receive. Then when the bride starts to open her gifts, guests mark off their bingo card as gifts are opened. The centre block with a heart is a free space. The first guest to get five in a row wins the game.

Bingo gift game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Romantic movie quotes

Download and print the game worksheet. On it, there are quotes from popular romantic movies. Give each guest a worksheet and have them fill out as many movie titles as they recognize and know. The highest number of correct answers wins. If this is too difficult, you can make 2 columns – one with the quote and in random order, the other one with movie titles. Guests then have to match column 1 with column 2. (On our sheet, the answers are: Love Actually, When Harry Met Sally, Moulin Rouge, Notting Hill, Casablanca, in that order)

Romantic movie quote game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Name that tune

Create a playlist of 12 love songs. Hand out a game page to each guest, then play a snippet of each song. The guests must guess who sang it. To make it even more difficult, they can give the title of the song as well. Guest with the most correct answers wins.

Name that tune game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Bride and groom trivia

Print the trivia page, then give the guests a set amount of time to write down their answers. As easy as that!

Bride and groom trivia game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Hitched or not

Download and print the list of celebrity couples. Give each guest one, and ask them to guess whether the couple is married or not. Guest with the most correct answers wins.

Hithed or not game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Wedding catchphrases

In this Charade-like game, guests must divide into teams, each team getting a pack of catch-phrase cards. The teams take turns to draw a card and then act out the word or catchphrase on the card. The rest of the team must guess. Normal charade rules apply. Download our catch-phrase cards here.

Catch phrase game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Favourite memories

Guests write their favourite memory with the bride on the memory card, which the bride then reads out loud to see if she can guess who wrote the memory.

Favourite memory game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. What’s in the bag – pay attention

Take a bag and fill it with items that the bride might need to pack for her honeymoon. You need 15 to 20 items to make it work. Give each guest a piece of paper. In front of the guests, take out each item one at a time and show it to the guests, replacing it bag into the bag once shown. After all the items have been shown, give the guests one minute to write down as many items as they can remember. Most correct answers win. Give the bag to the bride as your gift to her.

  1. Drawing game

This is a twist on Pictionary. Download and print the game board and word cards. You will need whiteboards or poster boards, something to stand them on, markers and dice. Follow the instructions on the game board, and enjoy!

Drawing game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. He said/she said

Interview the bride and groom in advance, asking them a series of questions in order to generate the quotes needed for the list. Download and print the game card, writing in your quotes of choice. Copy as many as you need, then hand them out to guests. They must decide whether the bride or groom said the applicable quote. Most correct answers win.

He said she said game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Who did what

Similar to the game above, this time you make a list of random, generic or very specific statements or acts and guests simply decide who did the specific thing. From who said “I love you” first to who is a better cook. Most correct answers wins.

  1. Bridal details

For this fun game, ask the bride to leave the room, then pass out the game sheets. Guests must try to answer the questions to the best of their abilities, most correct answers wins.

Bridal details game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Find the guest

A great icebreaker, this game is sure to get the guests interacting. Basically, you give guests a few prompts and they must find a guest who fits the scenario or description. A few examples:

Find the guest who:

  • Has been married ten years or longer
  • Speaks a foreign language
  • Has won $50 or more in the last 12 months
  • Has more than three kids
  • Is wearing blue shoes
  • Has more than three pets
  • Vacationed within the last three months
  1. Celebrity wives

Make a list of famous celebrity wives, then write each name on a single card. As guests arrive they must pick a card from the pile, then tape that card to their forehead without peeking. Other guests must then describe who she is until she guesses her celeb – and act like that celeb for the rest of the party.

  1. What’s in your cell phone: the wedding edition

For this game, the guests will whip out their phones for a cellular scavenger hunt. The ladies will search their phones and get points for each item that they can find. For example, one to five points for things like:

  • A selfie
  • A video
  • A text from the bride-to-be
  • Having a screen saver of a person
  • A photo of the bride-to-be

Or even more points for:

  • A battery life of more than 50%
  • Having zero unread emails
  • Having the wedding date saved in your calendar
  • A photo of the bridal shower

What’s on your phone game, Laughing Chefs bridal shower games

  1. Pen a poem

Grab a blank sheet of paper and ask a guest to write a single line of a romantic poem dedicated to the couple. Then fold the paper over, hiding the guest’s phrase, and pass the paper to another guest with the same instructions. Make your way through all the guests, then, in your best dramatic stage voice, read the (disjointed) poem the brides’ guests have dedicated to her great love.

  1. Bridal scattergories

With cute wedding-related prompts like “honeymoon locations” and “something blue,” it’s a clever way to entertain guests during party gaps. There are four lettered rounds (“L,” “O,” “V,” and “E”) with points awarded for creativity, originality and length — the winner has to earn the most points!

  1. Cake decorating contest

Give each guest a mini cake or a cupcake, with all the needed supplies, and ask them to decorate it in the style and colour that they think the wedding will be. The bride judges who win.

Any fun games that you would like to add?

22 things to trim from your wedding to streamline your budget

Stripes has seen her fair share of weddings, and the number one thing she will always comment on is the obscene amount that people are willing to spend on one single day. And although Laughing Chefs tries to see every budget as a guideline and not a target, some of the budgets that we have come into contact with have been sky high.

Why? She always wants to know. Why would people spend so much on one day, just so that they can start their lives together in debt? Or with parents who have to struggle because they spent everything on the wedding. Even if you have enough money, not even endless piles can justify spending money on those things that most people are not even aware of. Never mind the mindless forking out of cash, you are also contributing to a consumption-driven culture, waste, and unachievable expectations of every budget bride out there.

Every girl (and boys – they are not excluded) dreams of her big day. She wants everything to be perfect, from the dress right down to the serviette rings. And that costs money. If you do not have a lot to go around to start with, Stripes has compiled a list of 22 things that you can leave out, without your guests even noticing. Not only will this save you money, but also countless hours of research, sourcing, making, and worrying. Although there are a lot of things she can add, she decided it was too early in the year to write a lengthy article so she decided to stick to these 22 points.

Stripes says, the rule of thumb is to decide what you want to remember from your wedding day, together with what is the most important to you. Then allocate more budget to these things, taking away budget from things that are not that important to you. But, she says, remember that food is usually the measuring stick used by guests to label a wedding as having been good or bad, and in the end, you only have your photos to remember the day by. So spend more on your food and photographer, and less on those details that most guests never pay attention to, such as;

22 Things you can trim from your wedding, without your guests noticing:

  1. Go paperless

Lately, there has been a shift towards digital in every plane of life, so why not extend it to your invitations? Send out your save the dates, or pre-wedding invitations, via email or a chat service such as Whatsapp or WeChat. If you really want to go the printed route, stick to simple yet elegant designs, normal paper or cardstock, and no embellishments, foil work or other details that cost an arm and leg and usually end up in the trash afterwards. You can also invite everyone digitally, and then print a few elaborate and beautiful invitations for your grandparents, and one that you can keep as a memento.

  1. Skip the open bar

Instead of having an open bar, with a set limit or without, rather opt for a wine bar or pre-order a select amount of drinks that are then served throughout the night. If these drinks run out, or guests would like something else, they can buy for themselves from the cash bar. A wine bar is a wonderful option – a number of bottles are placed on a table, together with glasses. Guests then help themselves. What makes this option, even more, cost-effective is because guests are pouring from one central point you don’t end up with a bunch of open, half-drunk bottles of wine that you can do nothing with.

  1. Use what you already have

Incorporate items that you already own into your décor. Doing this saves money, but also ensures that your stamp of individuality is on your wedding. Items that you might already own: glass jars for flowers, beautiful shawls or pashminas for tablecloths, old books, etc. Also, get a list of décor items that are included in your venue hire, or if not included get the prices. It can work out cheaper hiring in from them since you avoid transport costs.

  1. Get married off-season, or on a weekday

For brilliant cost savings, consider getting married in the winter months, or if you want a summer wedding, on a Friday or even a Sunday. You can also look at a mid-week wedding. Some venues offer as much as 20% off for weekday or Sunday weddings, and usually 10% off for Friday weddings. Stripes know that Laughing Chefs has nice specials for the winter months.

  1. Learn how to wedding plan

If you really want to be hands-on, the best cost-saving advice that Stripes can give you would be to take a course in wedding planning. There are numerous workshops and courses out there, and although usually directed at individuals who would like to make wedding planning their career, you can learn a thing or two applicable to your own wedding. Stripes says she has heard rumours of exciting things to come at Laughing Chefs but will keep you updated.

  1. Bulk out your bouquet with cheaper options

With flowers, the biggest expense is not the physical blooms but rather the labour involved in buying, transporting, and arranging the blooms. Pick your flowers carefully, then add elements that are cheaper but that will add flair and drama, or make the bouquet softer/dreamy/etc. For example, berries, feathers, foliage, bulbs, etc.

  1. Serve a signature drink

Serve a custom-designed cocktail or signature drink instead of a full bar.

  1. Candles instead of flowers

Using large pillar candles as your centrepiece not only increases the elegance and flair, it also decreases the costs. You can hire refillable candles at a fraction of the cost of flowers, and candlelight creates the most beautiful ambience.

  1. Change the serving style of the food

French service or plated is your most expensive options, followed closely by waiter service of finger foods or canapes. The most cost-effective serving style is family-style, where the waiters’ place bowls of food on the tables and guests help themselves. The misconception is that buffet is cheap, but if you do a nice buffet and you do it well, it can work out more than plated food! Be honest and upfront with your caterer to ensure you stay within budget.

  1. Limit your guest list

Invite only people who play a part in your life. Skip the plus-ones, and forget the guilt-invites. Decide on the number of guests that your budget will comfortably cover and stick to that number. If you have a lot of friends or even family that didn’t make the cut but with whom you still want to celebrate consider throwing an after-the-fact party and invite them all.

  1. Champagne is for toasts only

Get only enough bottles to allow for one glass per person. Ask the venue or caterer to pour the champagne at the bar or in the kitchen then serve to the guests. This way you ensure everyone gets, with little wastage.

  1. Consider a Wedding Breakfast or Brunch

Breakfasts, brunches, and afternoon teas are usually more affordable than evening receptions: They’re shorter, the fare is lighter, and guests tend to consume less alcohol early in the day.

  1. Go all-inclusive

Find a venue that includes a list of things in their packages. Some listed items might seem pointless to you, such as specifying that they have toilets for men and women, but once there you will be grateful. If the venue includes décor, see where you can tweak your theme to incorporate those items, even if it might mean having to change your colour palette slightly.

  1. Change the style of the wedding

The less formal the party, the more affordable it will be. Instead of a full, sit-down dinner, opt for a brunch reception or more laid-back cocktail-style meal. Choose a venue with a low-key vibe, like a barn or farm, which lends itself perfectly to a simpler, more relaxed celebration with fewer bells and whistles.

  1. Bouton-ette your bridesmaids

Instead of costly and elaborate bouquets for your bridesmaids, rather opt for a single bloom pinned to their dresses boutonniere style. Not only will you save money, but you will also allow your wedding party to make a statement.

  1. Elaborate decor and expensive place settings

Don’t feel guilty about skipping things like place cards, fancy aisle runners, chair covers, or little handwritten menus or signs. Guests will either not notice that you went with the plain or basic instead of the more expensive option, or they will notice but not care. Instead, choose a venue that is beautiful as it is, and lends itself well to the chosen look.

  1. Make cake the dessert course

Stripes has seen scary things, such as almost an entire wedding cake being thrown away because guests just never got round to eating it. They were too busy nibbling on the dessert buffet. To stop this from happening, or at least minimise your risk, serve your wedding cake either as the sole dessert course, or paired with one other dessert. This kind of forces guests to have cake, and eat it too. Just make sure your wedding cake is actually nice and edible!

  1. Wedding coordinator

Hire a wedding coordinator to save you time and money. Most brides think that hiring a wedding coordinator will break their budget, but it’s a little-known fact that wedding coordinators can actually save you money after you get all the discounts and perks they have arranged with partner vendors. But use caution when selecting a planner: Anyone can call herself a “wedding planner.” Look for someone who is certified or have a proven track record. Phone past clients if you want 100% peace of mind.

  1. Order two cakes instead of one

Cake one – the beautiful one decorated according to your theme and colour palette. Cake two – a simple sheet cake in the same flavour as the main cake, which is cut up and served from the kitchens. Guests will never know, and you save pockets of money! If you want to be adventurous or have a large guest list, you can even do a few flavours of sheet cake.

  1. Decrease the hours that you need a photographer for

Speed up the traditional or symbolic acts that you want to be filmed. Move the cake cutting, first dance, and bouquet toss to early in the night. Guests won’t necessarily work out why, but you will – by getting these things out of the way the photographer can leave early, thus cutting down on the per-hour costs.

  1. Change expensive bubbly for less expensive options

What is in a name? A few 00 after the R, that is what. The sad reality is that most wedding guests cannot tell a sparkling wine from an MCC, let alone a glass of champagne. And I can assure you, most of the time up to 80% of all guests do not drink dry bubbly. To stop them from wasting your expensive stuff, rather opt for less expensive sparkling wine, and choose the sweeter varieties instead of the dry.

  1. Wedding favours

While precious mason jars filled with homemade pastries and jams are now in vogue, they’re unnecessary expenses that your guests probably won’t even remember in the first place. If you want to send something home with them, get a few paper boxes and place them at the wedding cake. Guests can then take a slice home to enjoy later.

These are the 22 things that Stripes wishes she could say to almost every bride that comes through the door. Remember it is about your marriage, not your wedding. Oh, and money doesn’t grow on trees, spend it wisely.

Anything that you can add?

Easy Ways to Manage to Manage your Health During Wedding Planning

It’s no secret that wedding planning can be one of the most stressful times in a bride’s life. Between finding a venue, a caterer, and trying to decide on details as simple as what chairs to have at the reception, it can get very overwhelming. Being that there is no “maternity-leave” for wedding planning, lots of brides-to-be have plenty of other things to do and places to be in the months leading up to the wedding. It can be so difficult to manage all the things left to settle while living your life at the same time. Days seem to fly by and as you get closer to the wedding, and all the chaos can put a huge amount of stress on your health. With all the stuff that needs to be taken care of, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. The last thing you need when you’re trying to be the most healthy and productive you can be is to get sick or exhausted. These tips are simple little reminders to support your physical and mental health during the stress of wedding planning.

Make a List

The wedding planning process usually starts as early as possible because there is such a long list of things to decide on and ultimately arrange. One of the worst things you can do is to wait too long and end up bombarding yourself with an overwhelming amount of errands in the months before the wedding. This can add a crazy amount of unnecessary stress on top of the existing anxiety you’ve already built up. All this stress and anxiety can cause a lack of sleep, decreasing your energy levels and make you sick. One of the best ways to sustain your health and effectively manage your time and energy is to make a list. If you know nothing about wedding planning, do some research and create your list of things that need to get done before the big day. Find out what needs to be done now and what can be done later on. If you don’t know, talk to someone who knows, whether that be a friend who’s recently gotten married or a wedding planner. Look online and find out what’s going to work best for you. Even when you feel defeated, take a deep breath and remember that it will all get done eventually.

Budget

High on the list of stress-causers is money. Weddings are very expensive and there are clearly a lot of different things that need to be paid for. Preparing yourself for the amount of money you’re going to spend can decrease the amount of stress you feel when it comes time to pay the bill. Again, do your research and decide what you’re willing and able to spend, based on what things can potentially cost. Deciding what you can and will spend before you spend it can give you more comfort in knowing that running out of money is avoidable. Another good tip is to put a little money away in a jar or container every day so that you accumulate a bit of a safety net. Even if you don’t end up using the backup fund, you can easily use that money to get something a little more expensive than you weren’t able to afford before!

Sleep!

Though this might be a lot of people’s favourite thing to do, it seems to get pushed to the back burner when there are so many things going on. Don’t let sleep get bumped to the bottom of your list. When you don’t get enough sleep, you lose focus and concentration which will no doubt make running wedding errands even more difficult than it was before. It can also have a lot of physical effects on the bride-to-be like illness, dry skin, and cold sores. While lotion and cold sore medication are good solutions, avoid getting these by planning your activities throughout the day so you’re done with them at a decent hour and you can get a good night’s sleep. Set a goal every day for a time that you should settle down and sleep so that you’re fully energized the next morning.

Moderate Exercise

Working out can be an important part of a bride-to-be’s routine in the months leading up to her wedding. Every bride wants to look and feel their best for the big day. Finding time to meet wedding planners and explore venues along with going to the gym can get extremely difficult. Making a daily schedule in a planner along with the list of things you need to be done for the wedding will help you organize your thoughts and keep you from scrambling at the last second. Keep in mind also that it’s perfectly fine to exercise a bit less if you’re feeling burned out. Perform some low-intensity workouts so that when you get home from the gym you still have enough energy left to do some planning. Take a walk, do some yoga or any other of your favourite activities that won’t keep you from being productive the rest of the day. That way when you’re done, you can take on more of that to-do list.

Take a Break

This may be tough to swallow being that you already feel like you have so much to do with so little time. You might be feeling like you should be using any last dark hour of the night to be arranging any last detail that you can, but one of the best things you can do when all the tasks life throws at us happen at the same time is to take a break. Take a deep breath, sit for a minute, and do nothing but give your mind and body a rest. Take a day off from work, enjoy some personal time in which you have nowhere to be and nothing to do. You most likely need a recharge to give yourself a burst of energy that will make the next day productive.  

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy this time. Despite all the stress, planning a wedding should be a time to be creative, have fun, and spend time with your loved ones. Don’t hesitate to ask for help because there’s always someone around who’s been through it. And if you start to feel burned out, take a break and take care of yourself before you take care of anything else.

Stripes’ special wishes for you for 2019

2018 might have treated you well. It might have thrown you around a bit. Or you might have emerged (thankfully intact) on the other side battered and bruised. No matter how 2018 was, 2019 can always be better. Of course, that would be a good wish, but Stripes knows you expect more of her. And so her wishes for you for 2019 must be a bit more elaborate.

1. A year of celebrations
May 2019 be filled with victories, accomplishments and love that needs to be celebrated. Of course, reaching the weekend, or surviving a Monday, or not crying after a very difficult day are also successes, and we need to celebrate our successes. So open that bottle, pop the cork, prepare that special dish, or even better yet get someone else in to do it for you. Celebrate in style, and in comfort, in 2019. Stripes says “remember that Laughing Chefs does the best private cheffing around! Get them to do the work so you can enjoy the celebration”.


2. The knowledge that happiness comes from within
May 2019 be the year that you accomplish inner peace. Stripes wish that you will realise that only you can make yourself happy and that you do not need a lot to be happy. It is a feeling, not a thing. And if you find it difficult to reach inner peace and the happiness that comes from really knowing yourself and being in balance, she says you are welcome to come and spend some quiet time on De Oude Deck, overlooking the bushveld, or staring up at the mountain. Outer peace might just help you with your inner peace. Bring the family with, Laughing Chefs will cook for them and according to them, no dishes is as close to happiness as can be!


3. Rosy cheeks, and tables decorated in living coral
May 2019 exceed your expectations. Stripes predict that this year will be the year for growth and for strengthening. She says there is a reason that the colour of the year is Living Coral – this is the year for living! And if you are alive, you need to move to stay alive. If you don’t know where to go with your rosy cheeks and all, book a picnic with Laughing Chefs, sit under the trees and when you are really quiet, you might even hear them grow. And if pinkish-orange is your colour, remember to incorporate the colour of the year into your décor! Of course, when in doubt get the experts to do it for you. Again, Laughing Chefs.


4. Loving friends and family
May 2019 be the year where you add to your friends and family. May your house be filled with joy and laughter, with sorrow and despair never crossing the threshold. Stripes says to watch out for Laughing Chef’s wedding packages at Oudehout Mountain Lodge – adding to a family can mean so many things. They also do baby showers, kitchen teas, christenings and engagement parties, making it easier than ever before to welcome and enlarge. She also wants to remind us of all the loyal customers who have become friends. There is something about celebrating life’s accomplishments that just brings you together, forging new bonds and giving new meaning to our lives. Stripes love seeing people enter as strangers and leave as friends.


5. More chocolate cake, less guilt
May 2019 allow you to realise that health and wealth cannot be measured by a bathroom scale, and you are worth much more than the numbers on that scale. Being a bit on the heavy side herself, Stripes knows that sometimes a big personality needs a bit more room to breathe. This year, do you. If you are happy then great! If you are not, do something about it. Stripes hope that Laughing Chefs, in collaboration with Oudehout Mountain Lodge and a few selected other people, will start their retreats so that she can also book in, relax, and breathe out. Maybe detox or stretch a bit too.


6. Less daydreaming, more hustling to make them come true
May 2019 be the year that you work smarter, not harder, to reach your dreams. If you can think it, you can do it. Stripes love daydreaming, but also realise that if she doesn’t do something about it she will never wake up in a better world. She loves seeing how Laughing Chefs grows and prospers, and wishes that 2019 will also be the year in which their wildest dreams come true. And Stripes’ biggest wish? A partner in crime, someone to share her day with, and hopefully her nights. She loves seeing the weddings that Laughing Chefs do, but it also makes her a bit sad. Hopefully, this will be the year that she gets to meet her Prince charming!

And those are the things that Stripes wishes for you for the year ahead. She also says that if you ever need reminding of how awesome you are, you know where to find her!

May 2019 be the most blessed year yet!